LESOTHO: CHALLENGING POLICE TORTURE

Salc : Anneke Meerkotter

Factual Background

The applicants were arrested by Thaba-Tseka Police in January 2018 on allegations of armed robbery. During the arrest, the applicants were assaulted and tortured to such an extent that they had to be taken to the hospital for medical treatment. After their treatment, they were detained in police holding cells for a number of days before being taken to the magistrates’ court. At court, the magistrate noticed that the applicants had been wounded and enquired into their treatment. The magistrate condemned the torture which was committed by the police and ordered the applicants’ immediate release. When the applicants returned the police station, they were subjected to further interrogation and were scolded for reporting the torture to the magistrate. Instead of being released, the applicants were taken to a different magistrate the following day, who asserted that he was not bound by the decision of the first magistrate and ordered our continued detention pending trial.

In the High Court

The applicants were represented by Adv Lephuthing. They applied for a number of orders, including a declaratory that the actions of the police violated their human rights, and an order that the decision of the second magistrate be set aside. On 29 October 2018, Makara J ordered that the decision of the second magistrate be set aside.

The Lesotho High Court has on a number of occasions expressed its concern with the levels of torture committed against detained in police and military custody.